Thursday, January 3, 2013

My 2013 Mac

You must remember I'm as old as dirt. And I've forgotten more about computers than young whipper snappers like you will ever know... he said shaking his cane. The Macintosh computer was invented by Apple so that geezers like me can quietly pass into senility without any need of any of that useless information we've got rattling around our noggins.

The thing about a Mac is that it has a learning curve that is nice and gently sloped upwards until it terminates in a sheer ice cliff. You want to go further than that? Get your crampons and climbing gear. Beneath the friendly, happy bunny face of Mac OS X "Mountain Lion" is a snarling, feral Unix kernel and all its attendant terrors for the uninitiated.

When you buy a new MacBook Air like I did after Christmas, it has this wonderful Migration Assistant that I cannot praise highly enough. It is as smooth as silk and everything you'd ever want when migrating all your stuff from one machine to another. You just hook the two machines together, answer some prompts and wait for all the files to go over from old to new. Walla!

When I went to check how things did, the results were impressive. I couldn't find anything that hadn't been successfully migrated. Bravo Apple. I went on thinking the migration had been flawless until just a little while ago when I went to print something.

It didn't migrate my printers. OK, I can click thru dialogs and redo the printer setup. The two HP inkjet printers that I'd bought in this century were happily configured in mere moments and ready to go.

But then came my HP LaserJet 4. It dates back to when I rebuilt Unix kernels for a living. And it's hooked up to a wireless print spooler that's somewhat less than user-friendly. Set it up perfectly, and all is perfect. Do otherwise, and you are in deep kim chee.

I hadn't sold my old Mac, so I expected to just copy by hand the settings from one bunch of dialogs on the old machine to the same dialogs on the new one. Simple, right?

Well, those printer setup dialogs show all the parameters except the ones you need when you're adding a printer via IP. You need the IP address of the print spooler. You know, the set of numbers you should write down on a sticker and put on the spooler, except you didn't. And you can't see the IP address on the old Mac's dialogs. Grrrr.

The answer was to get out the ice-climbing gear and start stabbing the problem with my ice-axe.
  1. First I went into terminal. 
  2. Then I went into google to find the right conf file in the CUPS subsystem. It wouldn't show me /etc/cups/printers.conf. 
  3. Then I remembered sudo cat /etc/cups/printers.conf | more

Joy of joys, the DeviceURI is lpd://192.168.1/101/L1

Back to my new machine, add IP printer address shown above, and the L1 queue.

That didn't work. Cycle power on printer. That didn't work. Ping No response. That's a clue. Cycle power on spooler. Wait. Ping starts responding. Try to print again. Walla!

So, people say that Unix is not user-friendly. This is not true. It is just very selective about who its friends are.


  1. and that is why I love my Mac. A PC is actually terrifying.

    1. The PC teaches you there are hard things one occasionally has to do. Linux is probably the best thing you can do to prepare you for that moment when you Can't Do That in a Mac, but want to anyway. But if a PC is terrifying, Linux may cause hysteria.


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